HESPERIA (CBSLA.com) — A  father of four and seasoned pilot, Troy Johnson is missing Friday night.

Johnson, 39, was flying an experimental Lancair plane that was seen crashing into the ocean 460 miles from San Fransisco on Thursday.

“He’s a Christian man, and we know that he’s at peace. It’s a difficult time, and we ask that everyone keep the family in their prayers,” said Lindsay Woods, Johnson’s brother-in-law.

“During the flight there was some unknown mechanical malfunctions. The planes auto pilot continued on its course until the fuel supply was exhausted and it descended into the ocean,” Woods said in a statement.

“Troy at an early age knew that he wanted to be in aviation and right out of high school and Bible college and went to aviation school right after that and graduated and went right into the field,” Woods said.

The FAA says the plane took off from Phoenix, stopped in Palmdale and then took off for Hesperia, only 60 miles away.

But the plane veered off course. Military radar operators picked the plane up off the coast of Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco Bay.

A Coast Guard rescue plane flew alongside and reported seeing the pilot slumped over the controls.

The crew watched as the plane crashed into the ocean about 460 miles off the coast.

Johnson was born in Apple Valley. In addition to his four children, he also has eight siblings.

The family issued a statement Friday evening. It read in part: “Troy was a wonderful man who was passionate about aeronautics from an early age. He was an accomplished pilot, aeronautical engineer and a loving father, brother and son. His family, friends and coworkers would like to extend their appreciation to those brave men and women who aided in the search. We find our peace and comfort in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The Coast Guard says the search for Johnson was suspended Friday at sunset. There are no plans to resume the search.

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